Tag Archives: Expat mums in Dubai

The truth about overbusyness and parenting.

It hit me when author Rob Parsons discussed the countdown clock in our children’s lives.  When our children are born we have those 18 years  – that ‘s the equivalent of 6,570 days.  When your child is 10 years old, you have 2,920 days left.  In Rob’s words, ‘no amount of money, power, or prestige can increase that number.’  My eldest is 10.  I want to utilise those 2,920 days I have left wisely.

It makes you rethink life’s busyness.  Life always creates that busyness.  It’s no one’s fault but our own.  It’s hard to say no.

This is not to say, don’t work or don’t have a life. I think it is just a half-time call to reassess priorities. I truly thought that when my child was 6 months-old, he needed me most.  Yes, it’s true, he needed me.  I thought that need would dissipate with time as he potty-trained and learnt to feed himself.  However, I was truly mistaken.

Most mothers with children around age 5 and above would agree,  our children need us even more in a different way.  That surprised me. They need us around to discuss their day or random thoughts that fly through their minds, play boardgames, guide them with their homework, to support them when they have a bad day at school, or just be there with them, and the list goes on.  My children note how many nights I have out in a week, and they tell me off.

I have always tried to speak with parents with greater parenting experience; often I find it most interesting to observe or speak with parents with children ten years older than my own.  It’s an eye-opener to see the path they have experienced to get an idea of what is to come. Think about it, when you meet an 18-year old you know much of what they might experience, and everyone has some gift of wisdom to share. I, therefore, try to ask those parents who have wonderful relationships with their adult children what made the biggest impact of that relationship, what worked, what didn’t.  I have amalgamated a wealth of parenting knowledge that they have shared taking some advice that works for my family and me.

However, one thing is most common with all their answers.  They said, enjoy it all now.  Don’t be filled with regrets about not spending enough time with the children.  I feel that already.  Therefore, it’s important that we adapt to the new season our children are in.  I have reached that new season.

Five Languages of Love

Gary Chapman’s Five Languages of Love should be a must read – I highly recommend it. Even if time is limited, it is important to understand how our children need to feel loved. Sounds simple right?  This book was initially written for couples but it works with children, family and friends too.  Chapman identifies five main love languages: acts of services, touch, words of affirmation, gifts, and time.

For myself, I feel loved through acts of service – when my husband remembers to make me an espresso for example or helps me with the children’s reading without me asking.  For me talking is useless, it’s actions that matters.  For my husband, words of affirmation and time matter.  Each of us is different. This is similar with our children too.  This is a great way to arm ourselves to be an effective parent even if busyness is all around us.

Just the other day, I took time to discuss with my children individually over lunch about what makes them feel loved.  My eldest tells me it’s cuddles and tickles.  He feels loved when I tickle him until he can’t breath with laughter, and it’s the time he spends with me one on one.  Simple tasks like taking him grocery shopping makes him happy.

My third child loves words of affirmation and gifts so praises and presents makes a difference to his week.  All totally different children.

It’s amazing what children reveal when we ask them the right questions.  Armed with this knowledge, I try to fill up their love tanks so they feel loved.  I realised there was little point loving them how I thought love should look.  Almost none of my children mentioned acts of service.  Obviously, they do appreciate the things I do for them but that wasn’t what filled up their love tanks.  Some of those extra tasks I made myself busy with don’t matter anymore, and I ought to spend time with them in ways that fulfill them, not me.

Preparing for a new season

Therefore, this September, I am trying to rework my days.  I want to make sure that I am not exhausted by the time I pick them up like doing four meetings in a row. I need to ensure that my love tank is full by the time I see them and that may involve giving myself a break for an hour before pick up.  I realise it is also about preparing myself before picking them up at school so I am in the best mental state before seeing them.  I take note of what tasks I do that leave me feeling exhausted.  I now try to cut those out.  I am trying to protect my time to ensure I can handle motherhood in the best way.  I don’t always succeed each day, but I wake up trying again and again to make it work.

3pm – 8pm are the most intense hours everyday after school as most mums understand. I need to rework my patience as I read a ‘yellow’ colour band Biff & Chip book for the fourth time with 4th child and I am trying not to shout out in boredom wishing I was doing anything else but this, and this often exacerbated when I am low on energy and overcommitted. It’s important to not let myself get in that state. When I am feeling frustrated doing mundaning parenting tasks, I also try to remember the number of days left.


Rob Parsons eloquently put it about a life of illusions when it comes to parenting and over committing ourselves.  There are three main illusions.

1. ‘I am doing this for them’ – the number of times I have justified that to myself.  The truth is our children would prefer less things and more of us.  As one child psychologists said, ‘ We are so busy giving our kids what we didn’t have, we don’t have time to give them what we did have.’

2. We tell ourselves that life will not always be so busy.  I do tell myself that this is just a busy season, and that this too shall pass.  I will wait to make time to do more with the children.  It’s not a busy period, it’s life.

3. The door of childhood will be open forever is an illusion. I am guilty when I say ‘later’ when the kids are begging me to swim or to take them out on a bike ride. My son is 10-years old, and many mums tell me that in a few years, he won’t want bedtime stories, to hang out as much, and to just hang out.  I have to savor every moment.  Even if I fall asleep reading them their bedtime story, I want to keep trying whilst they will have me.  I have read Peppa Pig continuously for 8 years already.  I am longing to turn each page, as it is mind numbingly dull but I know there will come a day when my youngest won’t want to share that moment anymore.

We need to remember a useful proverb, ‘If we do this, we can’t do that.’  Therefore, parenting also requires self-care.  Like any athlete, its about getting into the right mind set, health, and protecting the energy levels to ensure that we are able to perform to the best of our abilities.  If that also means cancelling a coffee morning, lunch or a meeting, it’s worth reassessing.

With that said, I am off to book a massage before pick up today.  It was a long weekend with the children.  I am trying to be my best self at pick up time. Yes, I do work too but we all need to find time to recharge.

Amazon.ae is here…. Spinneys is first on board.

HOORAY.  There are no other words that sum up my JOY.  My retail heaven has arrived.

Everyone knows I am a huge fan of online shopping for many reasons.  Price and time efficiency are two reasons high on that list.

Amazon.ae was launched subsequent to the online retail giant purchasing  Souq.com, and the result has been fast and astonishing  improvements including the launch of Prime.

Amazon Prime – What is it?

The Amazon Prime benefit include FREE delivery on domestic and international selection, video streaming of hit movies and TV exclusives, perks for games with Twitch Prime, exclusive deals and more.

I have has a Prime account in the UK for over a year now, and really appreciate next day deliveries, and it gives me access to a Prime Video and television too.  Amazon.ae is also offering instant access to video streaming.  For shopping items just clearly look for the Prime logo and those items will have next day delivery.

Also, if you are ordering items from the US and other countries, purchases valued over AED100, will be entitles for a free delivery within 6 – 9 days.

Spinneys, Dubai’s long and established supermarket has jumped on board using Amazon’s logistics to delivery some of their dry food items.  There is a huge grocery section from beverages to food cupboard items, bath and body products, personal care, diapers and pet products too.  The items are currently limited but like the UK and US, we know that the number of items will explode onto Amazon.ae very soon as more suppliers jump on board.

1. Wild Blossom Honey 

2. Freeze Dried Basil

3. Water Wipes 99.9% water for Babies

4. Fine Kitchen Towels

5. Acqua Panna Toscana Italia Still Water 24 x500ml glass bottles 

6. San Pellegrino Glass Sparkling Water Pack of 24 x500ml glass bottles

For more information on Prime membership –  free-trial for 30 days at 12 AED when you sign up 15 – 16 July, and after it will be 16 AED a month.


For entertaining the kids or educating the kids this holiday here are our family’s selection. Many of you have been wanting to know what I do with my children and here are some items always in our play cupboards.

1.  Kumon books are a fantastic way to keep kids brains going during the long summer. 10 minutes a day.

2. Monopoly – one of the best board games for the holidays

3. Uno – keeps them amused when you are waiting between travel, and great for lazy afternoons.

4. All the ABRSM Music Books for musical instruments can also be found on Amazon.  Most of the retailers in Dubai often run out of stock of these items so this a perfect alternative.

5. Lego – whilst still more expensive than Amazon.com it is so worth it for birthday party gifts that you forgot to buy.

We will be doing a series of summer reading books soon that you can stock up on Amazon.ae and in the meantime, sign up for Amazon Prime.  Total game changer.

Butterscotch Baby | Redesigning my children’s rooms with one of my favourite interior designers, Leigh-Ann Steele | Her handmade bespoke linens are just stunning | We speak to Leigh-Ann herself about her business and how she created a collection for each of my children

Photography by Alex Jeffries Photography Group.

Interior designer, Leigh-Ann Steele, launches her own bespoke high quality handmade linen collection, Butterscotch Baby, for babies and children in Dubai.  Leigh-Ann moved here to Dubai in 2010 from London where she worked as an interior designer for many years.  Although her move to the land of sunshine had its initial challenges, she still describes it as her best one yet.  She worked for Hacker Kitchens as a Senior Designer before leaving after 6-years with them to launch her own design consultancy collaborating with other designers and to focus on Butterscotch Baby, a family-based business in South Africa.  Leigh-Ann has kindly created a bespoke linen collection for all my children, and it is just utterly divine with top quality linens with the highest thread count   She tells us more about Butterscotch Baby and how she designed each concept for the children.  It was perfect timing as we are transitioning as a family out of the baby phase now, and wanted something a little more sophisticated for the children.  However, for expectant mums, Leigh-Ann can also create the most magical nursery too.

#Can you describe how the whole concept of Butterscotch Baby Linens was created?

Butterscotch is a bespoke baby and kids linen brand. It was started by my family in South Africa 8 years ago. It was still a relatively new concept which has steadily grown worldwide.

It isn’t always possible to find the exact design that you have created in your mind’s eye and that’s where our designers come in to guide and support. Alternatively, some of our clients don’t really know what they want but they do know that they want it to be unique!

I have worked in the interior design industry for many years. As such I always admired the beautiful linens that were being created by my Cousin and Aunt in their very successful business based in Johannesburg.

I had mentioned to countless friends that it would be a great idea to bring this product to the UAE…. And then one day it dawned on me that this was going to be my next career. And so Butterscotch finally arrived in the UAE. It has taken a lot of time and hard work but worth every minute!

#What makes the linens so unique and where are they actually manufactured?

All our products are manufactured at our studio in Johannesburg. This ensures that each item is meticulously made, and quality checked before being shipped.

We have just completed a project for a very creative mum, who wanted her own hand drawn images and her little girls name in her individual handwriting on her linen. It came out beautifully and is totally unique to her.

We only use 100% cotton and 300 thread percale linen. It washes very well and lasts a long time.

We can do any fabric combination from a range of 100s of different designs in our range. If we don’t have it, we will find it. We also collaborate with a very talented artist from time to time. We can create a bespoke fabric design which we print to order if the client wanted something completely different.

With the UAE being such a melting pot. We have clients from all four corners of the globe. This means different furniture and linen sizes. We can create practically anything in terms of the design, size and specification.

Some people don’t really know what they want at the outset, so we take them through the design process and create really beautiful linens for them. From clean and contemporary mono chrome to whimsical and bright.

#For mums wanting to order a linen collection, what is the full process of ordering a bespoke collection?

It is a very easy process.

#1 Contact

Send us an email, call us or request a call back.

#2 Design

If you know exactly what you would like we can supply a quote immediately.

If not, we are happy for one of our designers to visit you at home to look at fabric swatches and put together a combination and range if items to suit the nursery or kids room.

#3 Order

When the order is agreed with the client, we will do a fabric swatch mood board and sketch to confirm that everything is correct.  We then send it off to our Studio in South Africa to go into production.

#4  Production & Shipping

Once it has been produced and gone through a rigorous quality check we ship it to Dubai.

 #5 Delivery

It is then delivered directly to you either in person by your designer or via courier.

It really is a simple process!

#How long, on average, will it take to receive the linens in Dubai once the collection has been designed?

Our lead times vary between 4-8 weeks depending on the order and time of year. This may seem a long time compared to walking into a retail outlet and buying off the shelf, but it is important to note that this is a fully bespoke item and made to order on an individual basis. You won’t find your bespoken linen in a shop.

We find that most of our expectant mums start planning the nursery very early on. In some instances, we get the call just after their 12-week scan and big announcement to friends and family. So, this leaves more than enough time to plan and deliver their beautiful linen.

They can also add items along the way. We keep a record of all our designs for each client so in a years’ time if they wanted to add to the scheme we can easily do that with very little fuss.

#Does Butter Scotch only cater for bespoke collections or do you hold a small collection of items here?

Our current offering is completely bespoke and made to order for each client. We are however in the process of creating individual ranges for a few Baby boutiques and retail outlets. These will still have their own unique theme, but you won’t be able to personalise them with things like your baby’s name or a quote etc…

We are very excited about these collaborations as there are lots of clients looking for a last-minute gift or mums closer to their due date. This is an excellent option for occasions like baby showers that are still unique and beautifully made.

#Apart from linens, what other items can people choose? I understand that you have a new collection of sleep pods too?

Our sleep pods are amazing and come in a range of suggested colour combinations. We can also personalise them in all our fabrics to match the nursery design. They come in 2 sizes. Small- birth to 6 months and large- 6 to 18 months.

Our Elly feeding pillow is so popular and can also be customised accordingly.

We do a range of bath time accessories including towels, face cloths and mini bathrobes, as well as, changing matts with removable covers and nappy bags.

We can easily incorporate soft furnishings to compliment the theme. Lampshades, bunting and curtains tend to be the most popular to bring it all together.

We also do beautiful mosquito nets in any length depending on the room ceiling height.

#For my daughter and son Leonardo who share a room, how did you blend their colours together so beautifully?

Their room was an absolute delight to plan. We used a blue and aqua colour palette for Leonardo. For Sofia we did the same blue & aqua and added pinks in the same fabric design to her linen.

Mixing the same pattern in alternative colours really brought the room design together, still being individual and brining out their personalities. It became apparent very early on that Sofia likes girly things but not everything needed to be pink!

#Sofia loves the drapes, such a clever concept. How do you suggest co-ordinating the styles and colours of drapes for children’s four poster beds?

We used a muslin voile for the curtain drops and added ties to the top of them in all of the fabrics used throughout the room. We also made them slightly longer to give a more luxurious feel to the way they hang. I’m really pleased with the way they turned out. We did them on all four corners so if she decides to hide away from her brothers for a few minutes this is her own special place!

#Luca and Lorenzo share a room, and love their nautical concept, how did you make each design personal to them?

For the boys you already had great furniture, so we just added to the nautical theme.  We used the same linen combination for the duvet covers and pillow cases. With red and blue embroidered details on the main pillow cases in different designs.  Each of your boys has their “favourite thing”. This in mind, we added planes to one and cars to the other. We did a small embroidery on the back of one of each of their scatter cushions to differentiate. We called it their secret! Each scatter cushion was done in a different combination, allowing them to be reversed to show a different pattern every day.

 #Are you able to cater to a wide range of budgets?

Yes, we can cater to a range of budgets. Within our fabric ranges we have different price points which does affect the final cost.

My opinion on the design process is that we should explore every option to begin with and create something fabulous. If we need to economise we will. There are various ways of achieving the same look and feel on a lower budget with different fabrics and combinations. It is important to get the design right first. We don’t exclude ideas because of budget constraints at the outset.

In terms of cost- We are on par with most good quality off the shelf products at the higher end of the market. However, it is important to remember that our product is fully bespoke and made to order. Each piece is handmade & quality checked before leaving the production stage. Our clients appreciate that our linens wash well and stand the test of time. If you look at this over the lifespan of your linen it will more than make up for the difference if any.

#Are you able to also assist in the design of the entire nursery or children’s room as a professional interior designer as well as designing bespoke linens?

We offer a room design service which we charge a set cost for depending on the scope of works. This will include introductions to other suppliers for furniture and accessories. The client can then decide how much or how little they would like to invest in the project.

We introduce contractors to undertake decoration work and carpentry if required. As well as a full room design and build option. This means we will work with you from start to finish to achieve the final product. POA.

Our introductory offer includes a in home consultation with one of our designers. If the client decides to purchase linen we will do a free room design including paint colours, furniture, and accessories. They will receive a mood board and buying details for each item and can implement it all themselves.

For more information email hello@butterscotch.ae or call +971 50 2813577


Easter Holidays are upon us | How to enjoy the fabulous weather | Creating outdoor living with ACE

Creating an outdoor living space was our priority this winter/spring – we had put it off long enough. We wanted to take advantage of the great outdoor living weather by adding a comfortable furniture set that was durable with four children and a space to create memories for our family.  We also needed to look for something a bit more sophisticated for entertaining our friends too.  Now that my youngest is three, and gone are the nappy days, I am finding it much easier to entertain again and less concerned about accidents.

We will stay in Dubai during this Easter holidays, and there has to be something said about not packing 6 suitcases and rushing straight for the airport.  As much as we love travelling as a family, I also love staycations in our villa, and with such busy schedules we realise we spend little time in the house.  This holiday will be the perfect way to catch up with home friends and to spend quality time together as a family, and more important to enjoy the unstructured time for the next two weeks.

Staycations at home means a great deal of outdoor time as a family – BBQs and beach days. My husband’s ideal day would be to have his whole family outside in the garden for breakfast and dinner everyday but as the children have grown older their school commitments have increased too.  The holidays are just perfect for lounging in pyjamas having long leisurely breakfasts in the garden before jumping into the pool or sea.

We had outgrown our previous outdoor furniture and it was falling apart because of the harsh summers (it was a quick purchase from Dragon Mart several years back, I confess).  It was time to discard the old and bring in the new. True to my new shopping style I even now buy my garden furniture online. ACE recently launched its online site showcasing a full collection of BBQs, Sheds, outdoor garden furniture, laptops and Dyson products and much more so it was ideal for my husband and me to scroll through looking for furniture sets as the stores displays are much more limited.  We came across a neutral coloured Maui 7-seater Sofa Set with multicolour pillows from ACE online price fairly resonably and if you wait long enough they always have fabulous offers and deals to economise your finances even further. (who doesn’t like a good bargain?)

After the purchase online, ACE was quick to contact us with a delivery, and outdoor set was unpacked by the ACE team and set out.  Honestly, I don’t know why it took us so long to get it organised especially when ACE made it all painless.  To make the furniture design our own, we threw on some outdoor Pottery Barn palm cushions (Seashells On The Palm, of course!).  Then, we had tailors from Satwa make out fabulous fitted outdoor protective covers to increase the durability of the furniture.

I do encourage you to have a scroll on www.aceuae.com and get 10% off your first online order.  They also have 25% – 50% off End of Seasons collection until 15 April 2018.

Top 5 things to do to enjoy the fabulous weather this Easter

#1. Do an Easter Egg hunt in the garden

#2. Visit Park House on Ness Nass Beach

#3. Spend the day at Legoland Water Park to exhaust the children

#4.  Join Privilee and enjoy access to hotel beach clubs, restaurants and spas.  We often frequent, Fairmont the Palm, Waldorf Astoria and Sofitel, the Palm.

#5. Have dinner every evening outdoors with the family.  With recent increase of mosquitos, I also use DoTerra’s essential oil blend of Terra Shield to diffuse outdoors to protect the children.